I woke up with a start at six in the morning that day, the sudden gush of a watery fluid from between my legs jolting me to wakefulness. I had been feeling unsettled the whole night, like I had a severe case of indigestion, with my belly throbbing and aching in turns. II was about three weeks from my expected date of delivery and a little more than two weeks from my scheduled Caesarian section. I hated having plans changed at the last minute, I grumbled irritably as I wobbled to the bathroom. Worse, it was All Saints’ Day.
I woke up A♥ and told him it was time to go to the hospital. So much for a late start to the day, I sighed. It was, after all, a holiday and we were all looking forward to sleeping in that day.
I took a quick bath and dressed quickly. I remembered to grab the bag I had packed a week earlier. I was not going to the hospital unprepared this time, like the time Alex was born and I hadn’t brought anything except for a small handbag (well, Alex came six and a half weeks early, so that was perfectly justifiable). A♥ got Alex ready for the drop-off at my mom’s. He hauled the car seat and Alex’s small suitcase to the car and then went back for Alex. Eighteen-month-old Alex was still half-asleep and offered no resistance to being carried or strapped to his car seat.
After the goodbye kisses to Alex and my parents, we went to the hospital, quite sure that that day was the day we were meeting our second son. A♥ and I looked at each other anxiously. We were both excited for the little one’s coming and yet, we couldn’t help but be nervous and worried. The long months of pregnancy hadn’t been exactly easy as we struggled with bleeding every few weeks. We hurriedly filled in paperwork and in no time at all, I was ushered to the labor room.
The long minutes of waiting turned excruciatingly into hours. By late afternoon, my contractions were coming one after another. My lower back was screaming in pain as I gritted my teeth in a false smile with each drawn-out wave of nauseating pain. I was not going to be one of those women who screamed in their labor, I promised myself, but the pain was getting more intense and more difficult to bear. Just a little bit more. I could hold out for just a little bit more, I breathed deeply in and exhaled loudly.
Just then, the resident who was monitoring my labor delivered the news. My obstetrician had called in to say he was postponing my delivery for a couple of days. By then, I was too exhausted to even ask why. After the tocolytics were given through my IV line, I felt the pain easing up slowly. A few more hours and I was transferred to my own room, to await delivery via C-section scheduled in two days.
And so it came to pass that 19 years ago, we met Alphonse for the first time on November 3. He was a big, robust baby, with round eyes and a shock of black hair. He cried easily and lustfully, with whooping squeals that deafened everyone around him. He was fussy and needy but sweet and beautiful the way only babies can be.
Today, Alphonse is no longer a little baby and yet, still not a man. He continues to straddle the world of adolescence and childhood. Physically, he is a healthy, strapping young man. Cognitively and emotionally, he is a little boy, innocent and often confused of the world around him. He is still fussy and needy but sweet and beautiful the way only he can be.
We live a life challenged by autism but never lacking in love. And we look back at the past 19 years with gratitude and awe, sometimes with tears, but more often with joy, for all the years our life have been blessed and bewildered by Alphonse’s presence in our lives.
Happy 19th birthday, sweetest one! Papa, Mama and Kuya love you always!